First Clip Of Firefly-Influenced Space Drama Venus Rises

The Sci Fi Channel chose the wrong online TV show when it bought Amanda Tapping's Sanctuary, judging from this exclusive new clip from the much grittier Venus Rises. Venus Rises is about the struggle between the working-class Venus and the wealthy Mars in a post-Earth future. In this clip, Sam and Kylara are exploring the Ikarus, and they meet the crew: Demille and the deaf Aeriana. Click through for an interview with writer/director J.G. Birdsall.


In Venus Rises, humanity has completely abandoned the Earth. All of the big corporations and wealthy people have set up shop on Mars, while the working stiffs are stuck in much worse conditions on Venus. The series begins as conflicts between the planets begin to heat up. Our hero, Sam, is an officer with the Mars Defense Directorate, and his friend Kylara is a scientist from Mars. Before this clip starts, Sam and Kylara are stranded in space, and they happen upon the Ikarus, a mining ship. The clip is still somewhat "raw," without music.

Venus Rises will be free online at, and also available on science fiction-on-demand cable channel IllusionTV. We talked to Birdsall about his series, and here's what he had to say.


We love the look of the Ikarus in this clip. How many sets did you build for the show in total?

There are seven sets total. I originally planned eight, but I had to drop one cause of budget. I looked through a lot of NASA books to try and match the feel of a real operational spacecraft.

In the clip, it looks really cramped

Space is a commodity.

So what are the chances of a second season of VR right now?

I only plan to do a season two if I can get funding. But I do plan on continuing 'interspace' episodes after the series is over.


Those are shorter, fill-in episodes, right? Are they all flashbacks?

Flashbacks and flash forwards. I'm lookin to keep them about 10 minutes long. Short story like.

Would your funding for season 2 come from illusionTV? or somewhere else?

It hasn't been finalized yet. It really depends on our fan base. There have been other inquires... but nothing formal yet.

So how explicitly is VR about class struggle? Is it sort of a haves vs. have nots situation?


It's not really about have or have nots... The Venus colonies are not looking to take over Mars. They want the means to make a comfortable living. Sort like war on the middle class. But they're being denied the basic stuff.

Yeah, I didn't think it was a war of conquest. But isn't that the definition of class war?

Yeah, there is definitely a class war context... but people have their own motives when taken out of their element.

So does the first season end with a cliffhanger? Are people going to be frustrated if there's never a second season?

It does end on a cliffhanger... but there are enough clues for the audience to piece it together.

So Earth is forbidden territory after humans abandon it. Why is that?


Thats an important story element... a little spoiler-ish. Earth plays more of a role later, in season two.

So all the big corporations are set up on Mars, and they use venus for cheap labor? Sort of like ousourcing to the third world.


Exactly. But the Venusians arent dumb, they know they are being exploited. Mars has key people in leadership positions on Venus.

Who designed your spaceships? What was the aesthetic behind the spaceship design? Gritty and spaceworn, or sleek and awesome?


We have a few 3d artists working on the project. Arnand kularajah is responsible for most of the spaceships in the series. He's an engineering physicist from Stevens Institute of Technology. He designed the ships science factually, which was a very important factor to me. Stephen Gilbert (cresshead is his handle) is a CG instructor in the UK. He's done work for NASA's moon landing anniversary so he was also a perfect match for this project. Craig Encer, and Mike Valentine work with Stephen. They're a strong team.

The show was always about grittiness. I designed the sets first, and it became a challenge for the artists to match that look. I never saw space being clean. It's a workplace. To quote Kirk from Star Trek IV, "I just work in outer space". I have to say i watched a lot of Babylon 5 and Firefly. I really like the character development in both series.


So when does the first season go up?

That's the 10 million dollar question. It's a pilot series, worked on by all volunteers.


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Annalee Newitz

I'd still watch a whole episode just to check it out. I like the premise, and I've sat through much worse dialog than that in many of my favorite shows. Hello, boxing episode of BSG. Sorry, but on the bad writing scale that was this scene times ten million.